Recently in Pennsylvania a Westmoreland County Judge ruled that landowner gas leases need not have both parties signatures to be valid in Snyder v. Rex Energy., Case No. 09CI06332. Local landowners brought suit against Rex alleging the company reneged on a deal to lease their properties for Marcellus Shale drilling. Rex maintained the leases were unenforceable because they never signed the leases. Accordingly, the Company argued no contract existed. The landowners argued that a contract was entered when they signed the leases that were prepared by the company without making any changes to the lease; meaning, this constituted a valid acceptance of the terms offered by Rex. Judge Caruso agreed stating that the leases, unlike those in other cases, did not contain the express requirement that the company sign them to be valid. The issue was considered early on in the pleadings and later, the parties settled. Ultimately, Rex agreed to five year leases, including bonus payments and royalties for the landowners. In light of the increasing rulings and considerations of Marcellus Shale issues, it is more than ever for a landowner to understand his/her legal rights and obtain experienced counsel for any transaction affecting these rights.
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